A lot of you have been asking me questions about photography and how to achieve certain effects. While I’m by no means an expert, I’m an avid photographer and I had to chance to experiment a lot. I’m also always a teacher at heart and yes, I like talking about photography, because I’m sure I can give you some tips and learn from you as well.
Alright, let’s be honest: yes, I edit all my pictures. Doesn’t mean I do much though. First, my editing skills aren’t that developed, second, I like my pictures to look natural. Indeed, photo editing is an art in itself and plenty of photographers spent hours developing new techniques or following processing fads.
While excessive editing cannot successfully mask improper techniques and poor photography, a little editing can dramatically improve your pictures.
Cropping — Something, all you need a little bit of cropping to reveal a great picture. Trim off the excess, remove the distractions in the background and cut down to your main point of focus. You can either keep set dimensions or get a bit creative, it’s up to you. Virtually all main editing software have a cropping function, including Flickr (where you can edit with pictures with Piknik) and Picasa (which is free).
Color Balance —Color balance is the global adjustment of the intensities of the colors. Basically, sometimes the camera doesn’t render the colors the way they are because of the color of the light sources: some light bulbs add a yellow color, bright sun makes everything looks warm, shade turns thing blue-ish etc. The camera’s auto white-balance system is easily mistaken. Fortunately, on most cameras, you can chose a white balance manually with settings such as “cloudy’, “sunny”, “fluorescent” etc. and the camera will compensate accordingly. You can also correct the color balance when editing your pictures and even play with it.
Straightening — Like I explain last week, crooked shots are one of my pet peeve. It’s very easy to set the horizon set in pictures if you forgot to do it while shooting. Simply align and rotate the picture, and crop a bit if needed. Once again, this is easy to do with the main editing softwares, such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Picasa etc.
Adjust the Exposure — When the exposure is too short, pictures look dark. If the exposure is too long, the picture looks too bright. You can adjust the exposure manually on most cameras (look for the “+” or “-“ buttons). You can also correct it at the editing stage. Warning: this can get tricky, so better get this exposure right when taking pictures!
Correct Red Eyes — Ah, the evil red eye… while it certainly add some Halloween flavour to your portraits, your subjects may not like it (eh, not everybody wants to be an evil vampire!). The red eye effect occurs when you use the flash: the bright light passes into the eyes of your subject through the pupil and reflects. It looks red because of the blood in your eyes. The best way to avoid this effect is to either use ambient light or to have the subject look away. When editing, you will notice numerous software allow you to remove the red eye effect and make your subject look human again. They will thank you, for sure.